Etymology of the Word PrimeDate: 08/28/2002 at 18:39:39 From: Tomas Schweizer Subject: Prime Numbers Why are prime numbers called prime? Thank you. Date: 08/29/2002 at 10:40:19 From: Doctor Sarah Subject: Re: Prime Numbers Hi Tomas - thanks for writing to Dr. Math. Here's what Steven Schwartzman has to say in his _The Words of Mathematics - An Etymological Dictionary of Mathematical Terms Used in English_: prime: from Latin primus "first," from the Indo-European root per- "forward, through, in front of"; there are many other extended meanings... Mathematically speaking, a prime number belongs to the first, most basic category of numbers: a prime cannot be divided by any number other than itself and 1. - Doctor Sarah, The Math Forum http://mathforum.org/dr.math/ |
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